ODM leader Raila Odinga during a service at Legio Maria in Makongeni, Nairobi, on November 7, 2021. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Mt Kenya governors have not been coerced to support former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s presidential bid in 2022.

Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia said the notion that some of them were being intimidated or forced to support Raila’s bid to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta when he retires next year was misplaced.

“Those of us who have rallied behind Baba (Odinga) are doing so willingly. There are senators, Members of the National Assembly, and other leaders from the region who are willingly supporting him,” Kimemia said.

He dismissed claims by Deputy President William Ruto’s allies that the former premier was ‘a government project’, saying the ODM leader is a democrat.

The governor made the remarks during a Breakfast Show on Citizen TV on Monday that had a panel consisting of senators Ledama ole Kina (Narok) and his Meru counterpart Mithika Linturi.

Kimemia, who hosted Raila in his county at the weekend, was responding to a claim by Linturi that most of the leaders from Mt Kenya supporting Raila have been coerced or being arm-twisted by the state.

Linturi had alleged that most of the governors supporting Raila were not doing so willingly.

“Those that are pushing Raila’s candidature are governors, cabinet secretaries, and Principal Secretaries. The reason is this; the governors have been intimidated,” Linturi said.

He added; “I come from the mountain (Central Kenya); the people have taken a position and made their mind. Since Raila entered the Handshake deal with President Uhuru, so much has happened.”

Linturi claimed high-profile graft investigative files await those governors who will leave Jubilee.

“We (governors) are not criminals. We are not threatened or intimidated by KRA, EACC, or DCI. We are supporting Baba (Odinga) because of his policies,” Kimemia said.

The governor clarified that Mt Kenya voters are listening to the former prime minister.

In the recent past, the former premier has intensified campaigns in the Mt Kenya region, receiving an endorsement from members of the Mt Kenya Foundation, elders and a number of governors.

Railais yet to announce his candidature for the 2022 presidential race, but he has declared he will make his position known on December 9.

His campaign has the support of President Uhuru who has been trying to influence his succession and has thrown his weight behind Railas ambitions.

His biggest rival for the seat at the moment, Deputy President William Ruto, has been relentless since 2018.

But Raila’s former coalition partners, who include Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi, have been jittery about committing to him for the third time.

Kalonzo, Musalia and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi have now formed the One Kenya Alliance.